Hotel bars have had a bit of a patchy reputation in the last few decades, often with drab, soulless decor and an uninspired clientele. But recently, they’ve come into a category of their own as somewhere you would choose to spend your night, even if you’re not a guest. They employ pioneering bar professionals who create avant-garde drinks menus and have brought much-needed pizzazz back into the surroundings. Here are four hotel bars in Europe you’ll want to have on your radar for your next visit.
The Vault At The Marmorosch, Bucharest
The Vault at the Marmorosch in Bucharest oozes the elegance of La Belle Époque. The bar’s name is apt not only for its setting inside a former bank but for the glowing opulence of the interior that hints at the riches that a vault might hide. The cavernous space is graced by a sweeping staircase and Art Deco furnishings. There are nods to the finance world in the decorative vintage scales and cabinet-lined walls. Reminiscent of a speak-easy, the bar lulls drinkers with dim lighting and a mellow ambiance.
What to drink: Their Backyard is composed of Sexton Irish, grapefruit juice, cucumber Syrup and lime juice, while the punchy Frenchie mixes Ron de Jeremy xo, Saint Germain, lemon juice, Chambord, Cointreau and Prosecco.
FRED By Fiskebar, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel De La Paix, Geneva
Since opening its doors in 1865, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix in Geneva has stood as a landmark among 5-star hotels. Drink in that history in the hotel’s FRED by Fiskbar watering hole, where Italianate architecture blends with contemporary design in idiosyncratic Swiss style. The Nordic-inspired cocktail menu is imaginative and radical, using ingredients including dill and salmon caviar. Just as eccentric is the artwork on the walls, so even lone drinkers won’t be bored.
What to drink: Signature drinks include the Salmon Gravlax made with gin, lemon, dill and salmon caviar, and the refreshing ‘Fjord spritz’ made with Aquavit, Italicus, grapefruit and Prosecco.
Society 25, W Budapest, Budapest
If you have a penchant for stylish design, head to Society 25 at W Budapest. The 1920s speakeasy-style bar echoes the rich story of the Drechsler Palace where the hotel is housed. This is the place to settle in for the night and enjoy the elegant layout and the thoughtfully curated cocktail menu. Each of the drinks is designed to tell a story of Budapest’s complex history, so it’s also an educational experience.
What to drink: The Illusionist pays homage to the great Houdini, who was born in Budapest, and the light and refreshing Strawberry Plié was created in honor of Budapest’s historical ballet scene.
Bar Longhi, Gritti Palace, Venice
If you want to feel like nobility on your trip to Venice, go for a drink at Bar Longhi in the Gritti Palace. With marbles, mirrors and Murano glass decorations, it ticks all the boxes for a night out in the lagoon city. The bar also affords coveted views over the Grand Canal and the Basilica della Salute from the terrace. The drinks are every bit as opulent as the setting, too.
What to drink: The iconic drink here is the martini. You can choose between 10 variations or try out their signature Kir Imperial with creme de framboise and Champagne.